Highlights Of the Sundance Film Festival

January 15 – Let’s start out by stating the obvious.  It was cold in Park City, Utah.  Even when the sun was at high noon it was still cold enough for two pair of socks.  But it was also a lot of fun and everyone seemed to have a good time as filmmakers, industry executives, and even Deer Valley locals shuttled to various screenings, panel sessions, and mixers.

Blackhouse, the networking hub hosted by Brickson Diamond, offered daily brunches in the morning and held a series of business focused panels in the afternoons for attendees of color.  Acura, Quaker and Canon showed off their newest products in well-placed showrooms along Main Street.  And if you didn’t rsvp to the BET, NBCUniversal, and HBO Game of Thrones parties or book your dinner reservations in advance you were out of luck.   No one got in anywhere without being on “the list”.

As for the films themselves, hot tickets included Justin Simien’s social commentary on black students at a predominantly white university Dear White People  and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, a story about a drummer driven to extremes by his overbearing music professor.  Buzz also surrounded I Origins, Imperial Dreams, and Frank.

Other recommends include a romantic drama The Lunchbox, Maya Forbes’ autobiographical Infinitely Polar Bear and zom-comedy Cooties starring Elijah Wood about a group of teachers fending off attacks by their zombie students.

From the doc world, Nadav Schirman’s The Green Prince  emerged as one of the notable faves and veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson unveiled Freedom Summer chronicling the 1964 murders of civil rights activists Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney.